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What Exercises Should I Avoid With Arthritis In My Knees?

If you have arthritis in your knees, it’s essential to choose exercises that minimize stress on the joint while still promoting strength, flexibility, and overall joint health. While exercise can be beneficial for managing arthritis symptoms, certain activities may exacerbate pain or discomfort in the knees.

Here are some exercises and activities you may want to avoid or modify if you have knee arthritis…

  1. High-Impact Activities – Activities that involve repetitive impact or pounding on the knees can aggravate arthritis symptoms. Avoid high-impact exercises such as running, jumping, or activities like high-impact aerobics and plyometrics.
  2. Deep Knee Bends – Exercises that require deep knee bending, such as deep squats or lunges, can put excessive stress on the knee joint and worsen arthritis symptoms. Instead, opt for shallower squats or lunges with less knee flexion.
  3. Full-Range Leg Presses – Using a leg press machine with a full range of motion can place significant strain on the knees, especially if the knees bend too deeply or if too much weight is used. Limit the range of motion or resistance on leg press exercises to avoid overloading the knees.
  4. Stair Climbing – Climbing stairs can be challenging for individuals with knee arthritis, as it involves repetitive bending and loading of the knees. If possible, use elevators or escalators instead of stairs, or take stairs one at a time with caution.
  5. Deep Knee Extensions – Exercises that involve deep knee extensions, such as leg extensions using resistance machines, can place excessive stress on the knee joint and may worsen arthritis symptoms. Consider alternative exercises that target the quadriceps without placing as much stress on the knees.
  6. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – HIIT workouts often involve rapid changes in movement patterns and high-intensity exercises, which can be too demanding for arthritic knees. Opt for lower-intensity cardio exercises such as cycling or swimming instead.
  7. Excessive Weightlifting – Heavy weightlifting exercises that place a significant load on the knees, such as heavy squats or deadlifts, may exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Focus on lighter weights and higher repetitions, or choose exercises that target other muscle groups without stressing the knees.
  8. Overexertion – Avoid pushing through severe pain or discomfort during exercise, as this can worsen arthritis symptoms and potentially cause further damage to the knees. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity or duration of your workouts as needed.

Instead of avoiding exercise altogether, focus on low-impact activities that promote joint mobility, strength, and cardiovascular health without exacerbating knee pain.

Some suitable exercises for individuals with knee arthritis include…

  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Cycling (stationary or outdoor)
  • Walking on flat surfaces
  • Tai chi or gentle yoga
  • Low-impact strength training exercises targeting the upper body and core

Before starting any exercise program, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or orthopedic specialist, to receive personalized recommendations based on your specific condition and individual needs. They can help you develop a safe and effective exercise plan that supports your overall joint health and helps manage arthritis symptoms.